Prosecutor seeks to clear inmate in Detroit house bombing
DETROIT (AP) — Prosecutors plan to ask a judge to dismiss the murder convictions and charges against a man serving life in prison for a firebombing that killed two young children in a Detroit home.
The Wayne County prosecutor’s office also said it plans to ask the judge at a hearing Thursday to release Kenneth Nixon, 34, from prison.
An investigation showed that, among other things, Nixon did not receive a fair trial in 2005, prosecutors said Wednesday.
A 10-year-old boy and 1-year-old girl were killed in a fire after a Molotov cocktail was thrown in May 2005 into the home. Their mother and other children were injured.
Nixon and his girlfriend, who allegedly drove him to the home, were arrested and charged with murder, arson and four counts of attempted murder. She later was acquitted by a jury.
Nixon was 18 when he was convicted that September.
The 13-year-old brother of the children who were killed identified Nixon as the person who tossed the Molotov cocktail, but he boy’s statements were inconsistent, according to the prosecutor’s office.
A jail informant — in exchange for leniency in sentencing for a separate case — told police investigators that Nixon admitted to firebombing the house.
Witnesses also have said Nixon and his girlfriend were at a different house at the time of the firebombing.
The case was reviewed by the prosecutor’s office Conviction Integrity Unit, which collaborated with the Cooley Law Innocence Project.
“The issues and findings of the CIU have convinced me that Mr. Nixon did not receive a fair trial,” Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement.
“The 13-year-old witness was the victim of a devastating arson fire that killed his infant sister and his young brother in their home,” she added. “The statements and testimony by this key witness were inconsistent to support what is basically the sole identification of Mr. Nixon.”
Worthy also called the use of the jail informant by a homicide investigator to gain a confession “highly suspect.”
“The informant testified that he had no knowledge of the case from watching TV to bolster his credibility,” Worthy said. “Years later, he admitted that before Mr. Nixon allegedly confessed to him, the informant had seen details of the case on television.”
Nixon has maintained his innocence.
“A vital part of the justice system is ensuring that convictions rest on sound evidence and investigative practices,” said David Williams, an attorney with the Cooley Law Innocence Project.